Senegal – Energy to Remain: supporting women to create viable alternatives to forced migration

The NGO Green Cross Italia has launched a new project in Senegal. This aims to create work opportunities for women and young people and to contribute to generating possible alternatives to emigration. Financed by the Agency and carried out in partnership with ENEA, FAFD and Cultivert, the “Energia per restare” project (“Energy to Remain”) intends to improve living conditions in five rural villages in the region of Matam, in north-eastern Senegal. In this area, the strong potential for agricultural development is hindered by desertification, lack of crop diversification, the use of machinery which is old and pollutes heavily, and also by the high cost of energy. The Matam Region has one of the highest migration rates in all of Senegal. It is the men, above all, who emigrate. Green Cross’s operators in the field plan the interventions to be carried out with the women and young people who have remained. In the five villages involved, all the benefitting families have had direct experience of migration.

Green Cross Italia will install water pump systems in the villages, powered by solar panels, which will make it possible to save over 2,700 litres of diesel a year. It will also provide seeds for cultivating 37 hectares of land. New agricultural techniques will also be experimented with, based on crop rotation, while market strategies will be elaborated to reinforce crop sales.

Roughly 2 thousand people - mostly women - will directly benefit from this project, but in the long term, thanks to the strengthening of social resilience and increased agricultural productivity, the entire communities of the five rural villages will benefit, i.e. over 22 thousand people.

Senegal has a dramatically high rate of poverty (48%), while 15% of its population lives in a state of food insecurity. But this is not an unchangeable situation. By involving the local communities of the villages of Ballel Pathé, Sinthiou Diam Dior, Koundel, Sadel, Woudourou and of the cities of Matam and Ourossogui, Green Cross aims to reinforce resilience and create further prospects for employment and well being.

The real protagonists of this small revolution are the women. Many of them have been left alone, without their husbands, sons and brothers who have emigrated to other African countries or beyond the continent. “We try to set in motion the energies of these women who wish to continue to live and work in their homeland”, says Elena Seina, coordinator of Green Cross’s African projects. “The women form the soul of these villages. If we improve their condition, we contribute to giving this country a future and to creating opportunities for their children. In this way we will have planted a seed that can open up alternatives to the roads of clandestine migration.”

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Foto: S. Di Lorenzo / Green Cross Italia